Skip to content

Baseball-softball’s chances of 2020, 2024 Olympic inclusion

Sep 7, 2013, 9:20 AM EDT

Tommy Lasorda AP

The International Olympic Committee will make the second of three major votes at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sunday.

Nearly 100 IOC members will choose one of three sports — baseball/softball, squash and wrestling — for inclusion in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics from 11-11:45 a.m. Eastern time. For more on what happens Sunday, click here.

OlympicTalk will look at each sport’s pitch. Here is a rundown of baseball-softball:

Sport previews: Squash | Wrestling

Jessica Mendoza played softball during the 2012 Olympics.

Not with the U.S. national team. No, London marked the first Games since 1992 to not include softball. Rather, the 2004 and 2008 Olympian took to the diamond last summer with the USSSA Pride of the National Pro Fastpitch league in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Akron, Ohio, and Kannapolis, N.C.

“All my Olympic teammates, we were all on the same field,” Mendoza, who gave birth to a baby boy, Caden, two weeks ago, said in a phone interview this week. “It was this weird feeling, being so far away from it.”

Mendoza said she spent days last summer watching the Olympics on TV. At night, she had league games to play. It brought to mind her Olympic experiences in Athens and Beijing.

“I felt, honestly, like crying,” she said. “We should be there. Instead of here in Florida, we should be there in London.”

Baseball and softball were cut from the Olympic program in an agonizing decision eight years ago. A total of 105 IOC members were eligible to vote “yay” or “nay” on all Olympic sports. A majority was needed to remain in the Games.

Baseball went down 54-50. Softball was 52-52. One member abstained from each vote. Had that member voted for softball, it would still be in the Olympics. Had anybody switched in favor of softball, it would still be in the Olympics.

Baseball and softball are now baseball-softball, one combined bid competing against squash and wrestling for one opening in the Olympic program for 2020 and 2024. Wrestling is considered the favorite. The Associated Press described baseball-softball’s chances as, “likely headed for another strikeout.”

“It’s so hard because a lot of the people voting are the same people who voted in 2005,” Mendoza said. “I’ve learned since then to understand the IOC a little bit more and learn that it’s very hard to figure out what they’re thinking.”

Tommy Lasorda doesn’t understand, either. Lasorda, 85, the retired Hall of Fame Dodgers manager, is probably the man most associated with U.S. Olympic baseball. He guided the 2000 Olympic club to gold, a group of minor leaguers who upset favored Cuba to cap an unlikely run. A “Miracle”-like documentary was in the works a few years ago.

“They made a big, big mistake,” voting baseball out, Lasorda said in a phone interview. “They’ve got sports that aren’t even sports in the Olympics.”

Together, baseball and softball are stronger than they were individually. They’re pushing for more compact Olympic tournaments, six days each, and at the same venue, saving money.

Baseball-softball’s chances will rise if Tokyo is elected as the 2020 host one day before the sport vote. Japan won the last Olympic softball tournament in 2008 and the first two World Baseball Classics in 2006 and 2009. It would be able to fill seats better than other candidates Istanbul or Madrid.

Issues that hurt each sport in the past remain. Softball is certainly more global than it was in its Olympic debut in 1996, but it’s still lacking support and popularity in Europe.

Baseball is beset by its doping problems and that the Olympics are not the ultimate goal for the sport. Major League Baseball players compete in the World Baseball Classic, but, so far, MLB has said it’s unwilling to stop its season to free players for the Olympics, like the NHL does.

“Those guys have contracts to worry about,” retired first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who hit a walk-off home run in the 2000 Olympic semifinals, said in a phone interview. “The timing’s never going to be right for them. This was a stepping stone for us (minor leaguers in 2000). Some of us, (the Olympics) was our big leagues.”

Olympic baseball proponents, such as Fidel Castro‘s son, argue that there’s plenty of time for negotiations with MLB on seeking a solution for the world’s best players to go to the Games.

American Don Porter is the president of the International Softball Federation and a co-president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation. He said he was packing to bring to Buenos Aires letters he’s received from girls who want to play Olympic softball.

“We’ve got a lot of young girls and boys out there who want to get their Olympic dreams back,” he told the AP.

City previews: Istanbul | Madrid | Tokyo

Key information for IOC session in Buenos Aires

Latest Posts
  1. Evan Lysacek: ‘My career is coming to an end’

    Sep 2, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT

    Evan Lysacek Getty Images

    Olympic champ figure skater yet to make official decision, but shows which way he is leaning.

  2. Usain Bolt takes on all questions in India

    Sep 2, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT

    Usain Bolt AP

    Would he rather race fast cars or cheetahs?

  3. Marlies Schild retires; impact on Mikaela Shiffrin

    Sep 2, 2014, 7:41 AM EDT

    Marlies Schild, Mikaela Shiffrin Getty Images

    Schild won silver behind Shiffrin in Sochi and is one of her idols.

  4. Carl Lewis becomes full-time University of Houston track coach

    Sep 1, 2014, 2:37 PM EDT

    Carl Lewis AP

    Lewis joins staff with two other Olympic sprint medalists.

  5. Berlin, Hamburg submit Olympic bid intentions

    Sep 1, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT

    Germany flag Getty Images

    Germany is the latest rival to a potential U.S. Olympic bid in 2024.

  6. African wrestlers out of World Championships due to Ebola travel restrictions

    Sep 1, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT

    Wrestling Getty Images

    Seven from Nigeria, two from Sierra Leone out due to Uzbekistan’s restrictions.

  7. Haley Anderson wins Pan Pacs open-water 10K by .01 after jellyfish sting, move to Maui

    Sep 1, 2014, 10:44 AM EDT

    Haley Anderson Getty Images

    Olympic silver medalist swam three days after suffering allergic reaction to jellyfish sting.

  8. Gwen Jorgensen wins World Championship in triathlon

    Aug 30, 2014, 5:27 PM EDT

    Gwen Jorgensen Rich Cruse/USA Triathlon

    American overcame a 69-second deficit, passing 19 women on the 10km run to cap dominating season.

  9. Henry Cejudo withdraws on eve of UFC fight debut

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT

    Henry Cejudo Getty Images

    Olympic champion cites “medical reasons” hours before weigh-in.

  10. How the FIBA World Cup impacts the Olympics

    Aug 29, 2014, 1:44 PM EDT

    James Harden Getty Images

    Statistically, the U.S. might be better off not winning in Spain in the Olympic scope.

  11. Kayla Harrison wins bronze at World Judo Championships

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT

    Kayla Harrison Getty Images

    Olympic champion missed 2013 Worlds after knee surgery.

  12. Gwen Jorgensen’s glory awaits in Edmonton

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Gwen Jorgensen Getty Images

    An accountant five years ago, triathlete is dominating after Olympic disappointment.

  13. Tyson Gay last place in Zurich; Jenny Simpson leads U.S. winners (video)

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:56 PM EDT

    Tyson Gay

    Allyson Felix, David Rudisha beaten in first of two Diamond League finals meets.

  14. Man with cerebral palsy towed through Ironman by twin brother

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    tvilling

    Steen and Peder Mondrup completed the Ironman Copenhagen in 15 hours.

  15. Youth Olympics wrap with Closing Ceremony, Lionel Messi cameo (photos)

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:12 AM EDT

    Closing Ceremony

    Olympic Flag handed over to Buenos Aires, host of 2018 Youth Olympics.

  16. Rio Olympics volunteer registration opens

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:37 AM EDT

    Rio 2016 Olympics Getty Images

    Officials looking for 70,000 people over the Olympics and Paralympics.

  17. Yao Ming reflects on Beijing 2008 at Youth Olympics (video)

    Aug 27, 2014, 4:44 PM EDT

    Yao Ming, Lewis Johnson

    Chinese basketball star also updates on what he’s been doing in retirement.

  18. Thomas Bach hopes mixed-gender events in Nanjing impact Olympics (video)

    Aug 27, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

    Thomas Bach Getty Images

    IOC president sits down with Lewis Johnson at Youth Olympics.

  19. U.S. finishes Youth Olympics with 22 medals, 10 golds

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:52 PM EDT

    Sabrina Massialas Getty Images

    How can we apply the results looking ahead to the Rio Olympics?

  20. Zurich Diamond League final preview

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT

    David Rudisha Getty Images

    Diamond Races up for grabs, plus Gay vs. Powell in the 100m.